12 one-of-a-kind San Antonio restaurants to visit right now
To help you narrow down your choices, we’re bringing you a curated list of 12 unique San Antonio restaurants guaranteed to please every kind of palate. Keep reading for our top picks.
Among the best restaurants in San Antonio, this gourmand oasis is housed inside a building erected in 1904 as Pearl Brewery’s administration building. Run by chef Steve McHugh, you won’t soon forget the delightful eats from beer can PEI mussels and bread pudding with brown buttser caramel and candied pecans to heritage hog poutine with Wisconsin cheddar curds and chicken and doughnuts with jalapeño syrup.
All Texas-grown meats are cured on-site and the venue also has a wine cellar located inside the original safe of Pearl Brewery. McHugh, who hails from a small Wisconsin farm (hence the cheese curds) recently received a James Beard Award Nomination for Best Chef in Texas, to boot.
Find it: 306 Pearl Pkwy, #101, San Antonio, TX 78215
Handmade bread and pan dulce inspired by Mexico’s Golden Era (“Epoca de Oro”) is the name of the game at this stellar eatery which also nods to French, Italian, and American bread-making techniques to whip up classic Mexican sweet breads.
Once you sink your teeth into their baked goods, you’ll understand why the 48-hour fermentation process is well worth it. Two of our favorites? The Pan de Muerto with a touch of orange and Nutella muffin croissants. And the spot isn’t just celebrated in Alamo City, co-founder David Cáceres has earned a James Beard nomination for Outstanding Baker in 2022.
Find it: 8305 Broadway San Antonio, TX 78209
For a unique restaurant in San Antonio’s Southtown, Pharm Table is a winner for both your palate and your health. Founded in 2015 by chef Elizabeth Johnson, the eatery aims to reimagine comfort foods without inflammatory ingredients and in accordance with principles from ayurvedic cuisine, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Blue Zone regions (home to the world’s longest living people).
Incorporating plenty of Mexican and Texas flavors, the menu focuses on plant-based fare and showcases local ingredients as much as possible. Chase your zero-proof “N/A-groni” or golden milk fizz with a cauliflower shawarma bowl or cilantro coconut guacamole and an Israeli-style hummus and veggies spread.
Find it: 611 S. Presa St., Suite 106, San Antonio, TX 78205
The Esquire Tavern
Located on the San Antonio River Walk, no list of unique restaurants in San Antonio is complete without a hat tip to this famed establishment. Known for having the longest wooden bar top in Texas, The Esquire Tavern opened in 1933 as a gathering place to toast to the end of prohibition.
Nosh on fried plantain chips, shrimp cocktails or the Esquire cheeseburger chased by a Pimm’s Cup, Old-Fashioned or French 75.
Find it: 155 E. Commerce St., San Antonio, TX 78205
Located on the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River Walk inside the boutique property, Hotel Havana you’ll feel teleported to Cuba in this bohemian-yet-refined space with abundant light spilling in through floor-to-ceiling windows during daylight hours.
Nestle up to a stool by the ledge perched over the water and clink your mojito or margarita glass to a good time, which we hope also includes the restaurant’s tacos de hongos (mushroom tacos with queso fresco, cilantro, and pickled onions) and pescado Zarandeado (Achiote snapper with avocado-cilantro rice, pickled cabbage, Mezcal mango, and black Cuban beans). Before you leave the pan-Latin hub, look up and take a moment to marvel at the beautiful chandeliers.
Find it: 1015 Navarro St., San Antonio, TX 78205
When you want a hamburger from a San Antonio restaurant, Southtown’s Burgerteca is the correct answer. For us, it’s a toss-up between the Oaxaca burger with mole negro, black beans, pickled red onions, avocado and queso fresco and the La Veggie burger made from roasted beets, queso fresco, poblano peppers, corn, barley grains, and topped with jalapeño lime-mayo, cabbage, pickled red onions, tomato and avocado crema.
Spotlighting Mexico’s regional flavors and indigenous ingredients, the menu also offers tasty sides like nachos and Mole Fries and mango, spicy mango and house margaritas to quench your thirst.
Find it: 403 Blue Star, #105, San Antonio, TX 78204
When you’re highlighting the best unique restaurants in San Antonio, you’ve got to include a BBQ venue. Our vote? This otherworldly smokehouse founded by two high school friends that has catapulted its way to a cherished local hot spot since opening in 2016.
Pitmaster Esaul Ramos electrifies diners’ palates with signature Texas barbecue dishes updated with Mexican finesse. Say, pork link with serrano peppers and Oaxaca cheese, Chicharoni macaroni, pickled nopales (cactus), and Mexican street corn, along with brisket, pulled pork and meats by the pound.
Find it: 2731 S. Ww White Road, San Antonio, TX 78222
Another Pearl District San Antonio restaurant go-to, this fusion restaurant melds Peruvian recipes with Asian flavors. Chef Geronimo Lopez of Caracas, Venezuela dazzles at this historic Pearl Brewery outpost that features both “Chifa” (Chinese-Peruvian) and “Nikkei” (Japanese-Peruvian) cuisine, prepared in a charcoal oven.
Said to be one of a handful such restaurants in America that combines the gastronomy of Asia and South America in such a way, expect standouts like charred octopus, spicy eggplant noodles and genre-bending sushi rolls.
Find it: 303 Pearl Pkwy., #111, San Antonio, TX 78215
Looking for restaurants in downtown San Antonio with epic Tex-Mex cuisine? Head to Mi Tierra. In 1941, Pete and Cruz Cortez opened a three-table café for farmers and workers at San Antonio’s Mercado. Now, the 24-hour family-owned restaurant remains a beloved haunt, doling out traditional dishes like enchiladas and fajitas and pouring finely-crafted margaritas, accompanied by live Mariachi entertainment.
The adjoining bakery is also worth a pit stop, especially for their delectable pecan pralines.
Find it: 218 Produce Row, San Antonio, TX 78207
A jaunt to the picturesque San Antonio Botanical Garden capped off with a stellar meal? Yes, please. This new restaurant comes from celebrated chef Jason Dady and ties together the culinary heritage of Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Morocco in a zen farmhouse setting with an eye-catching white marble bar. (You can also sit outside in Gertie’s Garden, which hosts live jazz performances on Wednesday evenings.)
Don’t miss nature’s bounty in dishes like fattoush salad, edamame falafel, and raspberry panna cotta. The focaccia pizza (opt for the “daily garden inspiration” or the white truffle Milanese with ricotta, asparagus, pecorino and a fried hen egg) is also divine.
Find it: 555 Funston Place, San Antonio, TX 78209
For an incredible restaurant on San Antonio’s River Walk, venture to this venue in Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, which bills itself as San Antonio’s only Argentinian-inspired eatery. While you soak up the sounds of the Naranja Latin Jazz Band (Thursday-Saturday nights), feast on Locro, a hearty stew of the Argentinian Gaucho with squash, beef, hominy and more or Pescado del Dia (fish of the day).
Whatever you order, save room for crema de limón con frutos rojos y helado de chocolate blanco, a sublime dessert of lemon curd with seasonal berries and white chocolate ice cream. If you love tequila, the offerings from the Naranja Tequila and Mezcal Bar (also located at Hotel Valencia), are sure to please.
Find it: 150 E. Houston St., San Antonio, TX 78205
For an epicurean experience, make a reservation at Mixtli which recently received a James Beard Award nomination for Outstanding Restaurant in 2022 (the sole Texas restaurant in that category) and Outstanding Pastry Chef for Sofia Tejeda’s incredible work. The Chef’s table seats 12, and you’ll linger over eight courses with beer, wine, spirits (Sotol, tequila, Mezcal, to name a few) and aguas frescas.
The menu changes every 45 days, featuring fare from various parts of Mexico, made with indigenous ingredients and pre-Hispanic techniques. Chayote heart salad with green apple, white anchovy and citrus vinaigrette and duck tamal with black bean Bordelaise, anyone?
Find it: 812 S. Alamo St., Suite 103, San Antonio, TX 78205